In a recent post here, Eitan Hersh summarizes research on campaigning and persuasion:

If you want to convince a white, suburban, straight, gay-marriage opponent to change their mind, recruit one of their white, suburban, straight neighbors to engage with them. . . . Want to mobilize blacks and Latinos? Send black and Latino canvassers to talk to them . . . Want to mobilize voters in a particular area? Recruit local canvassers, who are much more effective than out-of-area activists . . . In other words, a strategic campaign ought to employ canvassers similar to the target population.

The punchline:

Do not send people most affected by an issue; send people who most resemble the people you are trying to convince. That’s the advice that political science literature can offer at this point.

This is all fine, but I just want to cast a warning on the framing of all this research, which is as advice to campaigners. One could also frame it the other way, something like this:

Is someone trying to give you a political pitch? Be particularly suspicious if the persuader is local or is like you in some other way. Research shows that you can be more easily manipulated by people who resemble you. So if the doorbell rings and it’s someone just like you, trying to pitch you some political position or some product, watch out! You might well be the target of a sophisticated, research-based marketing campaign.

Either way, the research is valuable. But let’s remember that, as political scientists, our ultimate audience is the general public, even if in any given study we might be teaming up with some campaign or group of activists.